The budget deal cobbled together two weeks ago by House and Senate Democrats in conjunction with Senate Republicans fell apart last night as it became apparent that the votes were not there in the House. House Democrats could not provide the necessary votes due to opposition to provisions that would impose the state sales tax on tickets to cultural and artistic events as well as a 20% tax on the "small games of chance" that are popular at veteran and fraternal organizations.
House Democrats have pivoted to a new plan which maintains the tobacco tax increase from the previous agreement and resurrects the severance tax on natural gas production that Gov. Rendell and legislative Democrats advocated earlier in the year but was taken off the table during mid-summer budget negotiations.
ATR is contacting House members and urging them to reject this latest push for higher taxes.
As of this afternoon it remains unclear whether House Democrats have the necessary votes in their own caucus to pass the new tax package. House Republicans remain in unanimous opposition to any tax increase. Senate Republicans have indicated that they cannot support a severance tax, putting an end to the 3 caucus agreement and putting negotiations back at square one. A list of the Blue Dog Democrats who are least inclined to support the latest proposal and their contact information can be found at: www.statecapitolprotest.com
If a vote is held tonight ATR will post a list of all representatives who voted in favor of higher taxes on those least able to afford it and higher energy prices in the middle of the deepest recession in a generation.